If you think of a “normal” vape pen as one of those standard, cheap electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) with the disposable e-liquid cartridge, then you might imagine a vape mod simply as a more powerful, “souped up” version of this.
In fact, I like to compare the differences between a vape pen and a vape pen mod to the differences between a joint and a bong: while they both serve the same general purpose (to consume cannabis as a means of medication), one of them is much more potent than the other.
With that in mind, it’s relevant to think of a vape mod simply as a more powerful tool than a vape pen – and with a lot more features that can enhance your vaping experience astronomically.
In this discussion, we go over exactly what the differences are between a vape mod (or a vape pen mod) and a “standard” vape pen – what the various types of vape mods are, which one is better, and which one you should probably start out with if you’re just getting into vaping.
Vape Mod Pens and Advanced Personal Vaporizers – Are They the Same Thing?
Before we jump right into things, it’s probably relevant to discuss one quick question that we get a lot of here, which is: “are vape pen mods and Advanced Personal Vaporizers (APV’s) the same thing?”
Well, for all extensive reasoning yes they are the same thing.
Both vape mods and AVP’s are basically just a play off the traditional, disposable vape pen or e-cigarette – they typically contain some advanced feature(s) of the latter, most often in the form of:
- A more powerful heating unit
- A higher quality wicking system
- A larger e-liquid capacity, and
- A bigger battery
With that said, there are LOADS of different styles of vape pen mods out there, so it really doesn’t do any good to classify all of them under the vague definition of a “beefed up vape pen,” even though that’s technically what they are.
Should I Use a Vape Mod if I’m Just Starting Out Vaping?
Another question we get all the time in addition to “what are vape mods” is, “what kind of vape mod should I start out with?”
Well, in our honest opinion if you’ve never used a personal vaporizer before, you should probably just start off with one of the simple, cheap, disposable vape pens. These can give you a very good idea of what the whole “vaping experience” is like, without the need to drop some hard-earned cash on a top-end mod.
Moreover, if you’re considering using a vaporizer for medication purposes (such as using one with a high quality THC or CBD vape oil), then you’ll want to see if the medicine actually works for you and your specific condition — before you go out and invest in one of the best vape mods you can find.
In any regard, let’s go ahead and get started talking about some of the subtle (or not-so-subtle) differences between the various vape mod brands and models that are currently out there to choose from.
Vape Mods 101: The Basics
Like we mentioned, vape mods are essentially just beefed up versions of your cheap $10 e-cigs that you can get down at your local smoke shop or vape store. But what exactly do we mean by “beefed up?”
Well, like we said earlier the actual “mods” (this is short for “modifications,” by the way) generally come in the form of variations on the major working parts of a vape pen, which are:
- The battery. For fear of insulting your intelligence, the battery on any vape pen or vape mod pen is the unit that supplies the heating mechanism with the power that it needs to heat up. On cheap vape pens, the battery is generally WAY too underpowered for experienced users. Vape mods are designed to provide a significant boost – and ultimately a more powerful hit – that allows users to experience a drastically enhanced high (or if they’re a patient seeking relief from pain or anxiety, a much more potent form of therapy).
- The heating mechanism (e-coil). As you might suspect, the heating mechanism (or e-coil) on any e-cig, vape pen, or vape mod is the very “life force” of the device – without it, the unit is about as useless as a joint without a lighter.
As such, you might suspect that the e-coil on a vape mod has the ability to heat to much higher temperatures than that of a disposable vape pen. In reality, though, the opposite is true.
When you’re vaporizing, the goal is to actually heat the material (whether it’s dry herb, cannabis oil, e-liquid, vape juice, etc) to temperatures that are just above the boiling point of the active compounds. For most cannabis substances (including THC and CBD vape juices), this usually works out to be under 500℉.
Most cheap vape pens (and even some vape mods) with single-temp controls will heat WAY beyond these necessary temperatures – sometimes north of 900℉. Of course, this utterly defeats the purpose of vaporization. In fact, it can even cause some of the thinning agents in the e-liquid to break down into carcinogenic aldehydes, which is not good at all.
Moreover, the heating elements on a lot of vape pens are super erratic when it comes to the distribution of heat. Even on a coil that’s no more than a centimeter in width, you can get “hot spots” which are hundreds of degrees hotter in one area than they are in other. Most high quality vape mods have superior e-coils that are much more stable in terms of heat distribution. Also, many of them allow for total temperature control, which is a massive advantage that allows you to “choose” which active compounds you want to inhale, thus giving the ability to literally customize your high. Pretty amazing stuff.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that the unit containing both the heating element and the wick (which delivers the e-liquid to the heater coil) is usually called the atomizer.
The wick: Like we just mentioned, the wick is simply the part of the vaporizer that “delivers” the e-liquid (or oil) to the actual e-coil. In most models, one end of the wick sits submerged in the oil cartridge (which thereby saturates it), while the other end of it is wrapped around the coils in the atomizer, thereby giving the liquid direct contact with the heat. In cheap vape pens the wick is usually a simple cotton wrap, but in higher end vape mods they can be made out of much more efficient and durable materials like silica.
The cartridge: The cartridge is the last major functional element of the vape pen. On bare bones models you usually actually never see it – once the pen is empty, you simply toss it out and get a new one.
On higher end vape mods, however, you usually have the option to refill the cartridges, which is crucial if you like to switch up your e-liquids (i.e. change flavors or switch from a high THC blend to a therapeutic, non-psychoactive CBD blend). Moreover, some cartridges (or ovens) on a vape mod can give you the freedom to switch between vape oils, wax/resin concentrates, or dry herb (flower buds).
Want a Vape Pen Mod? You’ve Got Plenty of Options
Now that you’ve got a basic idea in regard to the differences between a vape pen and a vape mod pen, perhaps now you can be more on your way to deciding which one is preferable for you in terms of your personal wants and needs.
In all honesty, however, with all the various brands, models, and price ranges out there to choose from it can be borderline impossible trying to recommend a good one to start out with. There are seriously so many good units out there, our advice is to simply do some homework, shop around (either online or in store) for some of the most reputable brands, and find one that you like and suits both your budget and your needs.
That being said though there are some pretty sketchy brands out there that are selling straight-up junk vape mods for ridiculously high prices, so if you’re unsure of where to begin, our 2018 Best Vape Guide would probably be a good place to start.
Hundreds of Different Types of Vape Pen Mods to Choose From
In addition to the hundreds (actually probably thousands) of different vape mods out there (brands, models, etc), there are just many individual components that you can use to build up your very own customized vape pen mod.
For instance, if you know you’re going to be vaping a particular oil (or combination of oils), and know that you’ll need a specific heat pattern and wattage output, you can choose precisely the batter that you want, in addition to the proper e-coil and wick system that you need to pair it up with.
You can also switch up your wattage/power supply within the same vape mod unit, simply by screwing off one battery and screwing on another. And vice-versa with the e-coil/atomizer unit – there is a whole convoluted network of thread sizes and male/female joints to take into consideration, though, (like knowing the difference between 510, 306, and 901 styles), so we’ll save that whole discussion for another article.
Origins: How (and why) Did the Vape Pen Mod Come To Fruition?
Basically, the origins of the vape mod came about because people got sick and tired of the limits that were imposed by the disposable e-cigs and vape pens. They wanted something stronger, bigger, more powerful, and more diverse that was able to deliver a more potent hit than any vape pen was able to provide.
And actually, rumor has it that some of the very first vape mods were built out of flashlight housings. Since most flashlights have a cylindrical, hollowed out body, they provide a perfetc framework for building a totally customizable vape mod (don’t try it at home though!).
At some point, a skilled and resourceful “vaping DIY’er” pulled the guts out of a full-sized flashlight, and replaced them with the necessary atomizers, vape oil cartridges, and mouthpieces that were needed to make a high-powered, fully-functional portable vaporizer.
From there, of course the rest is history (and history has led us to insanely futuristic devices like the state of the art Apollo E-cig.
Rookie Vapers: Should You Start Out With a Vape Pen Mod?
Like we mentioned earlier, it is totally up to you whether you want to start out with a more expensive vape mod, or just start like most people do with a cheap, disposable vape pen. If you have some experience vaping and feel that you would appreciate the enhanced features of a mod, then by all means drop a little cash and treat yourself to a good unit (and in any regard you can pick up some great mods for well under $50, so it’s really not that much money, all things considered).
If you’re a total rookie to the world of vaping, however, and have no idea if you’ll even enjoy the act of it (or receive any therapeutic relief from something like a CBD vape oil), then we actually recommend starting off with a cheaper, “non-mod” unit. They’ll give you a good taste (no pun intended) of what vaping is all about, and will also give you the basic skills that you’ll need to get the most out of your mod unit – if/when you ever decide to upgrade to one.
One point that’s worth making, however, is if you do start off with a cheap vape pen and decide you like it, we highly recommend you make the investment to a better, more expensive mod unit as quickly as possible. The main reason we say this, believe it or not, is actually for health and safety reasons. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of low-quality vapes out there will heat the oils and e-juices to ridiculously high temperatures, which honestly does pose a risk of converting compounds like propylene glycol (PG) into carcinogenic formaldehyde and other aldehydes. Will want to avoid this by all means necessary.
What About Vape Pens? Are They Even Good?
To wrap things up, we’ll go ahead and mention the fact that not all vape pens are bad. In fact, there are some unbelievably high quality units out there from the likes of PAX, Atmos, Arizer, and Grenco Science, just to name a few.
Do bear in mind, though, that as is true with most things in life, if you want the top end stuff you’ll have to pay for it. While you can easily get a halfway decent, “functional” vape pen for around $20 or so, the best vape pens currently available on the market will run anywhere from about $60, to well over $100.
Hopefully this article on vape pens and vape mods was of some use to you, and as always, if you’ve got some burning questions, feel free to hit us up or message us on our Facebook page! Enjoy, and happy vaping!